Fitzpatrick leads, McIlroy surges at Bay Hill

Fitzpatrick leads, McIlroy surges at Bay Hill

Inspired by the legacy of the late Arnold Palmer, Rory McIlroy is determined to win the golf great's prestigious Bay Hill tournament on the PGA Tour for the second-straight year.

If the scale of that achievement can not be surpassed in a standard PGA Tour event, Molinari at least overturned an even bigger deficit at Bay Hill on Sunday. Francesco Molinari had signed for a sterling 64 almost an hour and a half earlier, leaving the next 10 pairings to finish up their week's work with virtually no chance of victory.

"I've had to tell myself [to have] patience at times, " McIlroy said.

All that mattered was that it dropped, capping off a five-shot rally with a final round no one imagined on a fast Bay Hill course with putting surfaces that looked closer to white than green, making it hard for anyone to get it close to the hole.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy fired a 70 and is tied for 31st.

Marc Leishman, the only other Australian to play the weekend, was paired with McIlroy Saturday but couldn't keep pace with the Irishman. After making the turn, he hit his approach on the 15th hole out of the rough to within two feet for another birdie, then got up-and-down for birdie at the par-five 16th.

One is a Srixon 4-iron, which he hammered from 224 yards over the corner of the lake to 18 feet on the par-5 sixth for eagle. "If I took care of the par 5s a little better, it might have been a different story".

"And if I do all those, maybe tomorrow's the day, maybe tomorrow's the day that I can put it all together and shoot another good round of golf and hopefully that will be good enough".

McIlroy, ranked sixth in the world, wasn't showing any signs of annoyance coming into the tournament, seemingly taking his close calls in stride and recognizing that the bigger picture suggests that good golf at some point will be rewarded.

Molinari delivered the highest quality on a day that required nothing less. He birdied from 22 feet on ninth for another birdie. But, he then carded four birdies and pars the rest of the round to finish on the cut line in a tie for 62nd.

And he ended it with a charge that would have made Arnie proud, and with the putt that has become familiar.

"I think it is important for everyone to try come here and pay tribute to one of the legends of the game". Certainly you can't expect him to rally to victory every time he is in the final group, but this was the fourth time in those nine events he has been within one of the lead and failed to win. Sung Kang also had a big putt on the 18th hole, this one from 12 feet for par that sewed up the third and final spot offered for the British Open at Royal Portrush this summer. He had a 68 on Friday afternoon and joined Fleetwood atop the leaderboard. "I shot 72 on Thursday here, and I felt like I played much better [today] than the 72 I shot on Thursday".

McIlroy wasn't the one around the lead who couldn't get a strong round going.

But having said in the build-up that he'll happily accept his new-found seam of consistency if he eventually gets back to winning five times per year, McIlroy was not for changing his tune after his round. "So from there I just started building my confidence and just saying I could get it done".

It's the first time in McIlroy's career that he's strung together five consecutive top-6 finishes, so what began to irritate him afterward were the questions that suggested that there's some sort of mental hurdle he has to overcome. The Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour. He played bogey-free on the final day at Carnoustie for his first major.

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